Attractions Of Mahabaleshwar...

Due to the red fertile soil and favorable climate in Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani, strawberry, raspberry, mulberry, gooseberry are grown in abundance. The jam factories are located in Panchgani. The Britisher's brought these strawberry plantations from Australia and planted in Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar and today these strawberries etc are exported to various countries. Lovely Mahabaleshwar strawberries are well known for their taste and are sent out in packages to different places. Mahabaleshwar resides in its strawberry farm and for which it is widely known.  Rows of yummy and juicy strawberry plantations over acres of land compel the awe out of the visitors when seen at close glance. Proudly, Mahabaleshwar is India’s sole strawberry estate with 1500 acres of land under its farming, and to compliment a trip to the picturesque home is always incomplete without a small trip to strawberry farm. A number of farms, almost all owned by these local people of Mahabaleshwar, hold a special delight for visitors. Some of the famous strawberry spots are Archies Farm, Hirkani Garden, Shilpa Farm, Garden’s Green House, Mapro Garden and Deepak Bagh. Early morning or pre-noon visit creates good chances to catch farmers at work in the strawberry farm. To add to it, the farm owners throw a cordial welcome to guest and invite them to pluck and feel the smell of strawberries. Getting a chance to see the strawberries packed is an experience for the reason that these perishable fruits are packed with great care in shallow containers. At many farms guests are offered to taste strawberry shakes Ice-creams and fresh strawberry. Buying these fruit in bulk is also offered at a minimal price at the outlets in Mahabaleshwar. The hill station recently attracted huge crowds for its annual Strawberry festival that was held here for two days. The festival attracts a stream of tourists from across India and abroad made a beeline to relish the orchard's fresh strawberry and its products here. Mahabaleshwar region is the largest producer of strawberry in India. The first timers regretted on not being aware about the strawberry festival all these years. But they promised to visit here again every year during this time. The objective was to invite tourists to taste the farm fresh strawberries and also promote the fruit as a healthy nutrient. The production of the fruit has been increasingly encouraging. It is also exported to various countries. "Presently, 1,350 farmers have been cultivating the fruit in 34 villages in Mahabaleshwar who have produced 13,000 metric tonnes. We export the frozen strawberries to Belgium, France, Sri Lanka and Australia. Moreover, with the coming up of the Malls and corporate sector, it has benefited us as well as the farmers," said Bakasaheb Bhilare a strawberry grower. The festival was organised by farmers in association with Mapro Company that owns strawberry farms and also manufactures. Archies farm is a good place to have fresh strawberry milk shakes, Strawberry Ice-Creams and Crushes.

Best Season
May to June is actually right time to see and pluck ripe strawberries. However, another round of best season to quench the crunch for vivacious red fruits returns in the months of October to May.

Old Mahabaleshwar
Situated 20 km from Mahabaleshwar, Old Mahabaleshwar is laced with wonderful scenaries and temples. This ancestral version of new Mahabaleshwar is a great venue for trekking which challenges every adventure enthusiast to trek up to 1372 m high. There are number of beautiful temples perched on the top, filling the air with the power of divinity. If the new Mahabaleshwar is known as the 'strawberry country' inviting traveler to taste the red berries and the famous chikki, the old Mahabaleshwar is a sacred venue dotted with temples and is called kshetra Mahabaleshwar. This auspicious part of the hill station is a revered site housing number of pilgrimage of deities and Goddess. Those who are looking for a meditative experience will be enchanted to see the five natural springs pouring water into a rock which looks like a tank. These springs are the sources of various rivers such as Konya, Krishna, Savitri and a whole lot more. This is supposed to be one of the oldest settlements on the plateau. Kshetra or Old Mahabaleshwar village is a cluster of about fifty houses. It is about six km. north of the town. The present settlement has grown into a substantial size with addition of new houses, lodges, hotels, bungalows and resorts. This is a holy place for Hindus and is known for its ancient temples. The most important among them is the Panchganga temple. As the name suggests this is the source of five sacred rivers – the Krishna, the Savitri, the Koyna, the Venna and the Gayatri. A stream course coming from the hill behind the temple has been directed into the temples and divided into five channels by stone masonry work. These five channels are said to be the sources of five rivers mentioned above. On the outermost side there are two more channels which are said to be the sources of Sarasvati and Bhagirathi – these last two rivers along with river Gayatri are said to be hidden and appear only on certain auspicious days. All the water from the five channels is directed towards a square shaped water cistern called Brahmakund (the tank of Lord Brahma) through a gomukh and into Vishnuteerth (the tank of Lord Vishnu) an adjoining tank. This water is further taken through an underground channel into Rudra Kund near the Rudreshwar temple and from there into Chakrateerth, which is in ruins. From there the water is seemed to be taken to the Krishnabai temple on the edge of the settlement this channel is off course damaged in ruins. The Krishnabai temple referred above is the most beautiful of all the Kshetra Mahabaleshwar temples, but unfortunately it is quite neglected because of its isolated location. There is a Pitrumukh temple, Aranyakund and Malapahteerth in the vicinity of the temple. There are two small temples near the main Panchganga temple both of them dedicated to Lord Shiva. These are the Mahabaleshwar temples and Atibaleshwar temple which in fact is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The story behind these two temples is like this, during the Puranic times there were two demons named Mahabal and Atibal. Both of them were creating trouble for common people, who prayed to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu to get rid of these demons. Accordingly Lord Shiva killed Mahabal whereas Lord Vishnu killed Atibal. Before breathing their last, both the demons requested that they may be immortalized by building temples commemorating them and hence came these two temples into being. There is a sacred tank called Hans teerth near these temples. Another smaller temple is the Kedareshwar temple said to be built by Maharani Ahilyabai of Indore. On the hill slope behind the Panchganga temple, there is a small Hanuman temple, supposed to be established by Sant Ramdas. The temple is a vantage point and gives a panoramic view of the Old Mahabaleshwar temple.